Awnings and condominium regulations: what you need to know


Emma Potter

The installation of awnings in condominiums it represents an issue of common interest for many homeowners. This is a topic that affects legal, aesthetic and coexistence aspects, making it a complex topic to deal with.

The main question that arises is whether thecondominium authorization to proceed with the installation of the awnings.

This article aims to provide a clear and detailed overview of the legal and regulatory constraints surrounding the installation of awnings in condominiums, examining the current regulations, jurisprudence decisions and the requirements to be respected.

Authorizations and regulations for the installation of awnings

When you decide to install awnings in a condominium, the first question concerns the need to obtain specific authorizations. In this regard, it is essential to know that for the installation of awnings a building permit is not required, nor does the SCIA (Certified Report of Start of Activity) have to be submitted to the Municipality.

This is because awnings, generally characterized by a retractable structure made of materials such as anodized aluminum or plastic, are designed to offer protection from the sun and atmospheric agents, without therefore being classified as new constructions requiring building permits. Consequently, the installation of awnings falls within the scope of free building activities, exempt from specific authorizations.

However, it is important to consider that there are exceptions related to local requirements or particular constraints. For example, the landscape plan of a Municipality could impose the use of certain colors and materials, or there could be a restriction of architectural, monumental or environmental interest that requires prior authorization from the competent Superintendence even to install a simple awning.

The impact on architectural decoration and condominium regulations

A crucial aspect to consider when installing awnings is the impact they can have on the architectural decor of the building. The choice of colour, material or type of curtain must be carefully evaluated so as not to compromise the general aesthetics of the facade. A dissonant element, such as a brightly colored curtain on a neutral-toned building, could in fact disfigure the visual harmony of the housing complex, negatively impacting the architectural decoration.

Learn more: The architectural decoration of a condominium

In this context, the condominium regulation takes on a leading role. If there are provisions that regulate the installation of awnings, specifying criteria such as colors or materials to be used to preserve the aesthetic appearance of the building, it is essential to comply with these indications.

It should be noted that, in the presence of a heterogeneity in the installation of awnings by other condominiums, a sort of “harlequin effect” could be created which, according to some jurisprudential guidelines, legitimizes the remaining owners to install awnings without strictly adhering to the original requirements, provided that this does not further alter the decoration of the building.

When the condominium regulation is contractual type, i.e. drawn up by the manufacturer and unanimously accepted by the owners, this can establish stringent rules regarding the installation of curtains, including details such as colour, material and type of fabric. Violation of these provisions may lead to the removal of non-compliantly installed awnings.

On the contrary, a regulation adopted a majority from the assembly condominium does not have the power to impose strict restrictions on the characteristics of tents in exclusive properties.

Respect for distances and assembly resolutions

When installing awnings it is essential to also consider compliance with legal distances and neighboring properties, especially in relation to the upper balcony slab. The distinction between overhanging balconies, i.e. those that protrude with respect to the facade of the building, and recessed balconies, i.e. those that do not protrude, is relevant for determining the ownership of the slab and, consequently, the need or otherwise to obtain consent for the installation .

For the projecting balconies, considered exclusive property, the owner's permission is required for any intervention involving the slab. On the contrary, for i recessed balconiesthe slab is generally considered a common part and, therefore, it is not necessary to obtain specific consents.

In the condominium context, the owners' meeting has a limited role regarding the authorization of the installation of awnings, unless specific conditions are met.

Jurisprudence has clarified that assembly resolutions they cannot contravene what is established by a contractual condominium regulation or arbitrarily modify existing requirements regarding the aesthetics and functionality of the curtains. However, the assembly can intervene effectively in cases where the installation of the awnings compromises the safety, structural stability or architectural decoration of the building, being able in such circumstances to decide on their removal.

The recent ruling of the Court of Appeal of Lecce (ruling no. 236/20 of 7 August 2020) reiterated that only the provisions contained in a contractual condominium regulation can impose specific restrictions on the installation of awnings, underlining how the modifications this regulation requires unanimity to preserve the rights of all condominium owners.